Thursday, November 01, 2007

Three Long Lines

And I Get To Watch Them Go

One thing that is nice about lunging on the double long lines is that I can watch My Boys move.

I started off with Toby who was broken in the lines and is a true master. All I have to do is think what I want him to do and he does it. I gave him a moderate workout, as he is not fit enough to work for long up into the bridle. Most of his session was on a longish frame, but at the end of each direction I did a series of canter/trot/canter transitions that brought him up into an upper level carriage for one or two turns around the lunging circle. He certainly earned his carrot at the end of the session.

Chance was next and this time I did not "vee" the lines through two sets of rings to create a draw rein effect to get him to give to the bit and drop into a frame. This time I wanted to see what he would do with just a direct rein through the top to rings of the surcingle. He went into a nice trot but did not lower his head on his own. However, when I asked for the canter, he reached out to the bit and offered a little bit of a frame. I suspect the added impulsion of the canter made him seek the contact while the trot, not quite as energetic did not. One thing I do find interesting is that he definitely does tire from the work and, quite unlike my Thoroughbreds, chooses to just stop on his own.

In contrast to Chance, Tucker does not wind down as the session goes on, but rather energizes. Twice, towards the end of our lining work, he let fly with a buck and bolted off on the end of the lines and it was all I could to to follow along on my bad knees to hold him from breaking away.

Years ago at one of his first horse shows he was all riled up and I tried a lunging session to settle him down. I accomplished nothing. As a matter of fact, he was even worse during and after the lunging than he had been under saddle.

As a result, I have never made it a habit of lunging my horses before riding as a way of relaxing them or warming them up. Chance, as the first non-Thoroughbred I've worked in a long, long time, is an entirely different kind of horse. It's something I need to keep in mind should I ever need to settle him in.

Tucker looked good in between the silliness, but I have to be very careful that he does not overflex. He is not doing what he did when I first started him, which was to go behind the bit with both his head and his body, but is now more likely to overbend on the lines while still keeping pretty active behind. When he does that, it makes it hard to encourage him to elevate his front end as the weight shifts to his hind end, because there is no way to "Lift" or half-halt him on the lines when he's too flexed.

If this doesn't make sense, don't worry about it. Long lining is a tricky business because you really don't have a seat or leg to back up a rein aid. While the whip does help, it's not quite the same kind of driving aid a rider can offer. The best exercise seemed to be to push him into a forward canter, which did open up his frame, than ask for the trot, hold it in the more open frame until he overflexed again, and then go back to canter. The natural impulsion of the canter, as it did with Chance, creates a better frame and tends to correct the over bending.

My surcingle with the turrets was damaged in one of Chance's "Barn Raids" so my upper rings are not quite as high or loose as I'd like them to be and that helps too. I have seen some driving rigs with an elevated "thing" so the rein aids can be higher up, but that's kind of a cheat....and expensive, as I recall.

I'll just have to figure out how to encourage him to take more weight on his hind end with some clever exercises--yet to be determined.


  1. Trying to work out how you have the long reins,do you clip them on the bit then have them threaded back through the rings or do you clip them on the rings then bring them back through the bit or totally differently?.Saw a pic today of a horse with them fitted the second way.

    Polo also gets sillier on the lunge so its not something ive ever done to settle him,I did with AliG today(not that he needed it) but at only 3yrs and with over a month off I didnt think it could hurt:)))

  2. Minky, through the rings and clipped to the bit. I have tried the other way rings to the bit, but don't like the feel of that one. For getting a difficult horse to yield--"vee" them. Through the rings, through the bit and then back and clipped to the rings.

    As I work them mostly on a circle around me, I like to keep the reins in the highest ring of the surcingle over the horse's back, not around the hind end as some people do.

    I like to keep the lines high for two reasons: 1. That's where the rider's hands would be and 2. They are less likely to get tangled around legs in case of trouble.